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Hale 'O Kai

Aloha Magazine - Music, Hawaii

The music of Hawaii includes an array of traditional and popular styles, ranging from native Hawaiian folk music to modern rock and hip hop. Styles like slack-key guitar are well-known worldwide, Hawaiian music is a frequent part of Hollywood soundtracks. Hawaiʻi also made a major contribution to country music with the introduction of the steel guitar.

Traditional Hawaiian folk music is a significant part of the state's musical heritage. The Hawaiian people have inhabited the islands for centuries and have retained much of their traditional musical knowledge. Their music is largely religious in nature, and includes chanting and dance music. Hawaiian music has had an enormous impact on the music of other Polynesian islands.

One of the greatest Hawaiian Musician was Israel "Iz" Kaanoi Kamakawiwoole. He became famous outside Hawaii when his album Facing Future was released in 1993. His medley of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and "What a Wonderful World" was subsequently featured in several films, television programs, and commercials.Through his consummate ukulele playing and incorporation of other genres (such as jazz and reggae), Kamakawiwoole remains one of the major influences in Hawaiian music.

The ukulele originated in the 19th century as a Hawaiian interpretation of a small guitar-like instrument brought to Hawaii by Portuguese immigrants. Tone and volume of the instrument vary with size and construction. Ukuleles commonly come in four sizes: soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone.
The pahu is a traditional musical instrument found in Polynesia, Hawaii, Tahiti, Cook Islands, Samoa, and Tokelau. Carved from a single log and covered on the playing end with a stretched sharkskin, it is played with the palms and fingers of the hand. It is considered a sacred instrument.
The ukeke is a musical bow made of koa wood, 16 to 24 inches long and about 1 1/2 inches wide with 2 or 3 strings fastened through and around either end. The strings are strummed with one hand while the other hand keeps the ukeke in position. The mouth acts as a resonating chamber.
Ipu is a percussion instrument made from gourds that is often used to provide a beat for hula dancing. Chants and dances in Hawaii are accompanied by the Ipu percussion instruments. It provides a enchanting sound that brings the feeling of ancient Hawaii.
The ipu heke is two such gourds joined together with a hole cut in the top to allow the sound to escape. Ipu heke are polished smooth with sand or sandpaper.Hawaiian Hula dances are accompanied by the Ipu heke percussion instrument.
Puniu is a small knee drum made of a coconut shell with fish skin (kala) cover. Traditionally, the lashings for the membrane were made from the olona plant. Hawaiian Hula dances are accompanied by the Puniu percussion instrument.
`Ili`ili are water-worn rocks that have their origins in Hawai`i's volcanic rock. They are porous in nature, which allows their sound to resonate when clicked together. `Ili`ili can be found where a river meets the sea. The rocks benefit from the constant flow of water that shapes and sounds perfect for hula.
Ulili isa spinning gourd rattle. The instrument itself consists of three laamia gourds mounted on a stick. The middle gourd is held in the dancer's hand and a string is pulled which causes the two end gourds to spin. Inside these two gourds are ali`i poe seeds, which create a unique whirring sound.
The puili is a piece of dried bamboo approximately two feet long that has been split into strips down most of the length. Dancers strike two puili together or against their bodies to create a rattling accompaniment. Hula dancers use this instrument during their performance.
`Ohe Hano Ihu is used to serenade lovers. Covering the sound stops with the fingers makes a variety of soft, melodious sounds, which, in ancient times, represented love chants and calls of birds. Today the `ohe hano ihu is also used by musicians to impart a unique sound to their compositions.
The steel guitar introduction is standard, multiple necks, and additional strings on each neck. The two neck, eight string per neck configuration is particularly favoured in Hawaiian music. The technique was invented and popularized in Hawaii.
Kä`eke`eke is made from bamboo to make a unique sound when played. The bamboo is cut so that the bottom of the kä`eke`eke is the bamboo's natural node (joint). All other nodes of the bamboo are removed, so the sound resonates from the bottom where it is hit, up through the pipe and out the top.
The Conk Shell, known in Hawaii as the "Pu," was once used to accompany chants. The pu emits loud sounds that can carry up to two miles. This large seashell is used in the beggining of traditional ceremonies, weddings and hula performances.
Oeoe is a whistle, traditionally made from a kamani seed or coconut shell. They would have one or more holes cut in them to produce sound. They would then be attached to a long cord. When a performer twirled the cord, air rushing through the holes would produce sound.

Copyright 2016 Aloha Magazine / wb@alohamagazine.com

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